Sports Injury Laws


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Whenever one engages in sports, there is always an inherent risk of injury. Most athletes accept this risk as part of the game. Most injuries are accidental and relatively minor, like sprains, twists, and the occasional bone break. But what happens if an injury occurs as a result of a deliberate hit or someone acts so recklessly that injury is almost certain to occur?

Usually, if an injury is accidental and relatively minor, nobody will be held accountable. However, when an athlete suffers a significant injury, particularly one which has an adverse effect on a career or hobby, then attention often turns to who might be held responsible. It may surprise some to find that it is not just other participants who can be responsible for a sports injury. Others could include referees who negligently get in the way or allow another participant to do something resulting in injury, spectators who throw things from the stands or charge onto the field or playing court, governing bodies who allow rules that permit such injuries to occur in the ordinary course of the game, local authorities, schools, the organizers of a sporting event, or a manufacturer or supplier of defective or dangerous sporting goods.

Common injuries include concussions and neck from head strikes in football, brain and nervous system damage from boxing and other martial arts, and all manner of injuries and even deaths caused by out of control fans. Claims for injuries relating to sporting events are on the rise. While many consider sports law to pertain primarily to the business side of the sports injury, sports injuries are now becoming a sub-specialty within this area of practice.

Just as with other personal injury claims, the primary causes of action for sports injuries are going to be negligence or, in the case of an intentional injury, battery. The elements for a cause of action of negligence are the existence of a duty to protect someone from harm, a breach of that duty, and harm to the plaintiff resulting from that breach. For example, if a player had an obligation, while exercising ordinary care, not to lower a shoulder and charge another player in a basketball game, but does so anyway, knocking another player to the ground and fracturing his tailbone, that could be a sports related negligence claim. On the other hand, if someone intentionally touches another in an offensive manner resulting in harm to the one being touched, that could constitute a battery. For example, if a pitcher intentionally throws a fastball at a batter's head, this could constitute a sports related battery injury.

If you believe that you or someone you know has been injured in a sports related accident or intentional tort, you should seek out the assistance of an attorney to help you in pursuing these claims. You may find an attorney on our website on the Law Firms page. Most attorneys will be willing to handle such a case on a contingency fee basis, meaning you will not have to pay out-of-pocket for any legal fees but rather, will split a small portion of any settlement or judgment with the attorney at the successful conclusion of your case.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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